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 DreamX Vs Xbox

GentooxMy results are in, does the DreamX reign supreme over the original Xbox, find out!

Press "Read More" for the full story.

Update
Friendtech contacted me after reading the review agreeing that the external Media Key is not an ideal situation and that for future models they were working on making it an internal modchip. They also state that the DreamX is intended as an Xbox LAN server for games. It is extremely well suited for this due to its high processing power. Don', however, expect this to replace your original Xbox since some games are buggy even in standard mode.

Ok, here are the specs for the Xboxes involved in the tests:

1) Standard Xbox with 64MB (This will be referred to as "Xbox")

processor : 0
vendor_id : GenuineIntel
cpu family : 6
model : 8
model name : Celeron (Coppermine)
stepping : 10
cpu MHz : 733.331
cache size : 128 KB
fdiv_bug : no
hlt_bug : no
f00f_bug : no
coma_bug : no
fpu : yes
fpu_exception : yes
cpuid level : 2
wp : yes
flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 mmx fxsr sse
bogomips : 1461.45

2) DreamX 1480 with 64MB (This will be referred to as "DreamX")

processor : 0
vendor_id : GenuineIntel
cpu family : 6
model : 11
model name : Intel(R) Celeron(TM)
CPU 1400MHz
stepping : 4
cpu MHz : 1512.005
cache size : 256 KB
fdiv_bug : no
hlt_bug : no
f00f_bug : no
coma_bug : no
fpu : yes
fpu_exception : yes
cpuid level : 2
wp : yes
flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 mmx fxsr sse
bogomips : 3014.65

The interesting thing is that even though the CPU is named "1400MHz", it is actually clocked at 1512.005MHz! On with the tests! (All tests were performed on fresh Gentoox Home 3.0c installations.)

Test 1 - NBENCH

Xbox)
TEST - Iterations/sec.
NUMERIC SORT - 517.32
STRING SORT - 21.938
BITFIELD - 1.0338e+08
FP EMULATION - 19.37
FOURIER - 7094.6
ASSIGNMENT - 6.105
IDEA - 721.31
HUFFMAN - 450.29
NEURAL NET - 6.9666
LU DECOMPOSITION - 258.88

DreamX - Turbo)
TEST - Iterations/sec.
NUMERIC SORT - 1038.6
STRING SORT - 47.261
BITFIELD - 1.9165e+08
FP EMULATION - 56.018
FOURIER - 14468
ASSIGNMENT - 11.244
IDEA - 2071.6
HUFFMAN - 831.69
NEURAL NET - 14.507
LU DECOMPOSITION - 773.4

As you can see, so far, the DreamX is twice as fast, but what about with the switch in "Standard" mode?

DreamX - Standard)
TEST - Iterations/sec.
NUMERIC SORT - 515.8
STRING SORT - 23.046
BITFIELD - 9.5043e+07
FP EMULATION - 27.701
FOURIER - 7112.8
ASSIGNMENT - 5.604
IDEA - 1024.7
HUFFMAN - 410.83
NEURAL NET - 7.1455
LU DECOMPOSITION - 381.76

Sure enough, half speed! It's safe to switch between turbo mode and standard mode whilst running, since all it does it tells the CPU clock to stop on every other cycle, effectively halving the CPU speed. As you can see, it is still faster in some some tests even in standard mode. The CPU temperature remains high in both modes.

Test 2 - Booting
This is the time taken for the Xbox to boot up from cold to KDE.

Xbox)
2m06s

DreamX - Turbo)
1m47s

Now for XFCE:

Xbox)
1m18s

DreamX - Turbo)
1m02s

As you can see, the DreamX definitely has the upperhand at boot speeds.

Test 3 - Kernel compilation (make dep clean bzImage modules)

Xbox)
42m36s

DreamX - Turbo)
29m39s

As you can see, the DreamX mopped the floor with the standard Xbox! Also, the good news about the DreamX is that the CPU temperature stayed rock solid at 55°C/131°F all the way through compilation (with the fan on full speed). The bad news is, that the DreamX failed compilation the first time and the filesystem became corrupt. This may have been because I ran emergencyheat which hardpowered down and caused filesystem corruption, or it may have been the CPU becoming too hot.

Test 4 - Overnight stresstest. What I will do is leave a kernel compiling AND nbench running overnight (both on loop). I will try this with the fan at a normal 20%

Result: Rock solid, it would seem. The fan automatically sped up to around 68%, which I had absolutely no control over. The Xbox's internal hardware was automatically setting the speed.

Conclusion
The DreamX is definitely an impressive piece of kit, but not with respect to gaming. I was unable to find any games which performed differently whilst in turbo mode. With Linux, the results show that the DreamX supersedes the original Xbox. There are some tests I performed which couldn't really be measured, such as the responsiveness of KDE which felt a lot faster, however the lack of RAM here was a limiting factor for me since menus needed to cache for a while before opening, and icon highlighting took a while etc... I cannot help but wonder what it would have been like with 128MB of RAM.

What detracted me from the DreamX was the shoddy excuse for a modchip - the "Media Key", which broke after one use. If Friendtech want to get smart, they should consider making a deal with a reputable modchip producer. Another annoying factor was the CPU temperature, which constantly floated around 66/67°C, the problem is, Tualatin Celerons are rated up to 69°C maximum, which I find quite alarming.

In all, I am happy with the product, the new processor really does Linux justice and the custom Xbox skin is a nice touch, however $500 does seem a little steep, perhaps. In addition to this, there is the constant worry of the CPU overheating in the back of your mind, a good remedy for this would be a heatsink with integrated fan, but then the hard drive caddy would sit right above the fan and no airflow would get to it... maybe water cooling is an option? ;)... On the plus side, I have been assured that the 128MB RAM issue was a one off mistake. Friendtech make their media samples by a different process and one of the engineers misunderstood the request for my DreamX and consequently did not install the extra RAM.



 




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